If you have diabetes and want to learn how to stop frequent urination, you’re in the right place.
Urination is a natural human behavior.
Through urination, our body eliminates harmful waste products.
However, frequent urination can be bothersome and usually points to certain health problems.
People with diabetes are probably one of the biggest groups suffering from frequent urination.
According to a recent review, 80% and 50% of diabetic patients have lower urinary tract and urinary bladder dysfunction, respectively.
These urinary system problems often present with frequent urination as their first sign.
If you don’t have diabetes but are experiencing frequent urination, you should visit a doctor for a checkup.
In this article, we will look into how diabetes affects our urination pattern and how to stop frequent urination in diabetes.
What is frequent urination?
Frequent urination or urinary frequency is a symptom of lower urinary tract or bladder problems. The term is defined as urinating more frequently than the usual habit of the individual. The total number of urination and intervals between toilet visits are not specified.
Frequent urination in diabetes is not the same as excessive urination. Excessive urination is polyuria, a condition where you excrete too much urine.
Different organizations give different definitions of polyuria. While many studies use 3 L per day as the cut-off number, the United States National Institute of Health (NIH) defines polyuria as profuse urination of more than 2.5 L per day.
Meanwhile, the International Continence Society suggests using a per-weight method to diagnose polyuria. In 24 hours, you should only pee up to 40 mL/kg of urine. This is equivalent to 2.8 L urine for a 70 kg adult.
Although frequent urination (urinary frequency) and excessive urination (polyuria) are two different entities, they are two closely linked symptoms of diabetes.
If you have a high amount of urine (polyuria), you tend to pee in less-hour intervals (frequent urination). This is what happens in diabetes.
Why is there frequent urination in diabetes?
When we talk about symptoms of diabetes, we must not skip the 3Ps- polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia. These terms correspond to increases in urination, thirst, and appetite.
Polydipsia and polyuria are intertwined. People with diabetes often feel thirsty, and drinking more water makes them pee more, which in turn induces their thirst response.
Now, why do people with diabetes develop frequent urination?
In diabetes, there is a very high glucose level in the blood (usually greater than 200-250 mg/dL). This excessive glucose cannot be reabsorbed into our bloodstream in the kidneys.
As a result, some glucose is eliminated in the urine, and glycosuria happens. When glucose goes into the urine, it draws water with it, leading to an abnormally large amount of urine.
The two most severe forms of diabetes are diabetic ketoacidosis and hyperglycemic hyperosmolar syndrome.
In these diabetic emergencies, glucose excreted into the urine can exceed 833 mmol (150 g) in 24 hours. This amount of glucose causes an additional 1.7-2.8 L of urine, which is a double-up of total urine output in healthy people.
How many times should a diabetic person urinate per day?
Everyone is different; the same goes for the frequency of urination. The frequency of urination depends on many factors, including:
- The total volume of fluid you drink.
- Type of fluid you drink. Alcohol and beverages with caffeine will cause you to pee more.
- Any medication you are taking. Diuretics are a common type of medication used to treat hypertension. It lowers your blood pressure by increasing your urine output.
- Any other health conditions. Many conditions are related to an increased urinary frequency, such as benign prostate hyperplasia, urinary tract infection, and pregnancy.
- Your age. The elderly tend to encounter frequent urination compared to adults and children.
- Your gender. Women tend to have more frequent urination compared to men.
Most people urinate 6 to 8 times in 24 hours. If your diabetes is well-controlled, this should also be your reference number.
However, per the factors mentioned above, one’s urinary frequency can be less or more, usually 4 to 10 times.
In a study involving 4458 women in the United States, the average urinary frequency is once every 3 to 4 hours. Only 3% reported urinating every hour, and 6% reported more than 6 hours of urination intervals.
If you suspect yourself having urinary frequency, you can get a bladder diary.
A bladder diary is an assessment tool that allows you to jot down the total volume of fluid you drink, how often you urinate, and how much urine is expelled every time you pee.
The bladder diary template is widely available online; free to download and print for your perusal. If you notice an abnormal increase in urinary frequency, more than 8 times in a day, the National Institute of Aging recommends visiting a doctor.
Get your FREE bladder diary
- Daily bladder diary
- Better understand your urinary symptoms
- Step-by-step guide
How to stop frequent urination in diabetes
Frequent urination can be a nuisance. With a relentless urge to go to the toilet, you might have difficulty focusing on your work.
Here are five ways that help stop frequent urination in diabetes.
1. Monitor your blood sugar level
Uncontrolled diabetes is the root cause of your frequent urination. Therefore, controlling your blood sugar is the most critical way to solve frequent urination.
Once you are diagnosed with diabetes, your healthcare provider will regularly monitor your blood glucose level by measuring a blood substance called A1C.
The A1C test measures your average blood glucose for the past two to three months.
If you have diabetes, your target A1C should be below 7%. Any number above 7% means inadequate diabetes control, and you are more likely to develop complications of diabetes, including diabetic kidney disease (can manifest as frequent urination), peripheral neuropathy (hands and foot numbness), and diabetic eye disease (blurry vision).
2. Watch out for your blood pressure
High blood pressure is another main culprit of kidney diseases. Hypertensive nephropathy or hypertension-induced kidney damage happens when high blood pressure damages vessels in the kidneys.
As a result, the kidneys cannot work properly, and you will have symptoms such as frequent urination, leg swelling, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
For someone with diabetes, high blood pressure gives a double hit to the kidneys. Controlling your blood pressure helps prevent further deterioration of your frequent urination.
Usually, people with diabetes should aim for a blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg. Again, everyone is different and the blood pressure goal has to be set individually. Ask your healthcare provider what your target is.
3. Follow a healthy lifestyle
Following a healthy lifestyle improves your general health and wellness. Leading a healthy lifestyle has been endorsed by multiple health organizations, governmental bodies, and research institutes as the best way to manage diabetes.
These lifestyle modifications include:
- Keep a healthy weight and body mass index (18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2). If you are overweight, try to cut down at least 5 to 10% of your weight, which can improve your diabetes control.
- Eat a healthy diet, including making healthy food choices and controlling portion sizes. Discuss with your dietitian to develop diabetes meal plans that suit your need.
- Exercise regularly. Try to have at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week.
- Quit smoking. Smoking jeopardizes your diabetic control and triples your risk of dying prematurely due to heart disease and stroke.
- Manage physical and mental stress. Stress can induce cortisol hormone release, which increases blood glucose levels.
- Get enough sleep. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake. They stop the production of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), a hormone that reduces your urine amount. When you have a lot of alcohol and caffeine in your body, ADH reduces, so you will have more frequent urination.
4. Know your medications
Whether you are on pharmacological therapy or just conservative (no medications) treatment, you need to know your medications. Ensure you always take your medicine in the correct dose at the right time.
If you have high blood pressure on top of diabetes, you may take these medications: angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs).
Both demonstrate kidney-protective effects in people with diabetes and hypertension.
On the other hand, some medications can worsen your urinary frequency. Inform your doctor about your condition if you are prescribed these drugs. Most importantly, do not self-administer medications.
Some examples of drugs that can make you urinate more include:
- Blood pressure medications: Calcium channel blockers and diuretics
- Psychiatric medications: Mood stabilizer (lithium) and antidepressant (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor)
- Antibiotics: tetracycline
5. Talk to your healthcare provider
Frequent urination does not always link to your diabetes. It may be a sign of other diseases like overactive bladder syndrome and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Take note and inform your doctor if you have any other unusual symptoms, especially if you have any of the following signs:
- Flank or back pain
- Blood in urine
- Cloudy and frothy urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Any mass in the abdomen
- Loss of weight
- Loss of appetite
Managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment. Take care of your diabetes before it troubles you with many of its complications. Discuss with your healthcare provider to create a diabetes control plan that suits your the best.